Impact, social enterprise, and social innovation… There is plenty of conversation out there using either or all of those terms, but each can be defined differently depending on who you ask. Ākina describes social entreprises as “purpose-driven organisations that trade to deliver social and/or environmental impact”. This has particularly resonated with the organisers of Tauranga Startup Weekend.
New Zealand is all over it right now: forums, workshops, and meetups are organised up and down the country and increase awareness and activity around social entrepreneurship. Also, the NZ Government is investing in SE and has named Ākina as its strategic partner. Last year the Social Enterprise World Forum brought together over 5000 participants in Christchurch. Investors and funders have started recognising the movement here too and have come together to form the Impact Investment Network. And NZ's first domestically focused impact investment fund, a collaboration of Ākina, New Ground Capital and Impact Ventures, has launched. Educators, community leaders and the community at large recognise the importance of making an impact for social good, as demonstrated by the growing awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations.
Social enterprises like Little Yellow Bird, Loomio, Ethique or Squawk Squad have been able not only to start up but to continue existing and grow by finding scalability and unique business models. More organisations around Aotearoa making a positive difference in their communities are also showcased on The Impact Initiative website. Social entrepreneurs are growing their ventures while simultaneously ploughing through the rather messy legal and regulatory environment this sector is faced with.It is being addressed and "Social Enterprises in New Zealand: A Legal Handbook" by Steven Moe is making a start.
That’s right, social entrepreneurship is happening, its potential impact cannot be ignored: non for profit community leaders, entrepreneurs, small business owners, politicians, funders and investors are paying attention and want to be involved and engaged. This collective cross-sector activity is paving the way to support a change aiming to overcome the unnecessary divide between the purely commercial and the charitable. It is opening a door to a place where everyone has the opportunity to participate on an equal basis to solve social and environmental issues.
And what about in Tauranga? Momentum for everything socially impactful is picking up too as people want to learn more about what it is, evident by the full house attendance at the recent workshops run by Ākina or again at the Leading Change in Regional New Zealand event co-produced by Ākina with Venture Centre and Community Trusts during Techweek18.
So, why Tauranga Startup Weekend | Impact? Tauranga Startup Weekend is an event about activating entrepreneurial activity, and it is running this year again as part of Groundswell the Festival of Innovation. Social Innovation will be discussed as part of this festival and practitioners will be in town. Informed by the mounting evidence around us that social entrepreneurship, one activator of social innovation, is a concept truly gaining momentum, the organisers have chosen this theme: the weekend event is a perfect place for those interested to come and test being a social entrepreneur, and make a start on solving some of the challenges affecting our community. Waste, waterways, child poverty, sustainable building practices or whatever it might be.
Startup Weekend Impact may be a first in Tauranga, but it has been done before in Auckland and Gisborne, both successful events that saw tens of teams work on developing ideas for impactful ventures. It is no surprise Startup Weekend is used as a vehicle to catalyse this: the event is the perfect sandpit for aspiring entrepreneurs from all sorts of backgrounds such as design, technology, business and innovation, but also science, environment, engineering, to get started with and get support for a new idea.
We also noted what had occurred organically at previous Tauranga Startup Weekends: an increasing number of social enterprise concepts being developed. In 2016 it numbered at 2 and increased to 8 for 2017. That’s why we thought it was high time the entrepreneurs showing up at the event received the support they needed by surrounding them with mentors and leaders who already work with social enterprises.
We also chose to call it Impact rather than Social Enterprise or Social Innovation. Impact is the result of action. Startup Weekend is about taking action. There will be a small but important tweak in the process during the weekend: teams will concentrate on what impact they hope to create from the very inception of their concept. The 54 hours from idea to pitch will be put to good use to place focus and time on addressing the issue of capturing and measuring impact, starting in the earliest hours of the startup process.
Tauranga Startup Weekend | Impact aims to shine a light on those willing to create an impact: the aspiring social entrepreneurs, those already doing it, and the investors and philanthropists that want to support. The event is to be a door of entry, a starting point in their collective journey to make change happen together.
You can start your journey to make change happen, book your spot for TGASW18 here.